Voter's Guide, 2020 Fall Elections, New Orleans
Position JUDGE -- JUVENILE COURT,Section A
NameKevin Paul Guillory

Campaign Information

Campaign Web Site

Bio Information

Party AffiliationDemocrat
Present Employer / positionOrleans Parish District Attorney's Office
Length of residence in Jurisdiction42 years
List of educational institutions and degreesLouisiana State University, Bachelor of General Studies, 2000, Minors: Business Administration, Psychology & Sociology
Paul M. Hebert Law Center, Louisiana State University, Juris Doctorate and Bachelor of Civil Law, 2004
Prior elected and appointed positionsNone
Civic involvement and affiliationsLouisiana District Attorney's Association, American Bar Association, National Black Prosecutors Association, Wex S. Malone American Inns of Court

Questions specific to the position

1. What is your experience as an attorney in Juvenile Court? If you have had no experience practicing in Juvenile Court, please discuss any other experience that would qualify you for this position. I am currently an Assistant District Attorney in Orleans Parish, having worked at the DA's Office for 12 years in two separate stints. I now serve as a senior prosecutor in the Major Offense Trials division, but it is the office’s Juvenile Division where I cut my teeth. Working in Orleans Parish Juvenile Court every day, I was able to witness firsthand the problems that plague our city’s youth and the ineffective ways in which our juvenile justice system has traditionally addressed those problems.

In between my tenures at the DA’s Office, I co-founded a private defense firm and represented numerous criminal defendants, including in Juvenile Court. As such, I am the only candidate in the Section “A” race who can say that s/he has been on both sides of a courtroom at every level in our criminal justice system. I have witnessed firsthand the impact of the criminal justice system on both crime victims and on those accused of crimes. There is no doubt that having experience in both the prosecution and defense roles will positively inform my thinking on the Juvenile Court bench and make me a fairer adjudicator of the issues that come before me. For this reason and more, I am the most qualified candidate running for the Section “A” judgeship in Orleans Parish Juvenile Court.
2. What rehabilitation and support programs do you support and are there any other programs you would initiate? The potential impact of community support programs for our city's justice-involved youth cannot be overstated. After all, these youth will be returning to society upon the closure of their cases, and thus it is incumbent on the juvenile justice system to equip them with the tools and opportunities to be productive members of society as opposed to repeat offenders.

It is clear that the next generation of leaders in the juvenile justice space needs to be both willing and able to think outside of the box for solutions that our current inadequately funded system is frankly not equipped to produce. These solutions must be based on the best available evidence, data, and legal scholarship. As a Juvenile Court judge, I will abandon programs that do not work and use my platform to champion and advocate for funding for those that do, and I will engage the community to help find solutions to our children’s challenges that the courts cannot provide.

I will expand the use of Juvenile's Court’s current community partnerships like the joint effort with Children's Hospital to provide counseling and other mental health services. Programs like Girls Reaching Out Work Wonders (GROWW), Men Engaging in Leadership and Opportunity Works (MELOW), and the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) provide mentoring and tailored support services to our young women and men affected by the juvenile justice system. Job Corps provides education and job training to ensure that young people are prepared for our constantly evolving labor market. Not only will I utilize these programs, but I will also seek out and support other community-based initiatives that serve our youth. I will also focus the Court's resources on improving inter-program coordination so that our youth do not fall through the cracks on account of bureaucratic mismanagement and ensure that full advantage is taken of the resources that are available, e.g. by making sure that the Evening Reporting Center has all appropriate referrals in a timely manner.

It is clear that all juvenile justice system stakeholders, including Juvenile Court, must invest more in these types of community-based solutions, and I pledge to do just that.
3. What changes will you advocate for to ensure that juvenile detention facilities have adequate resources and are sufficiently staffed? The best way in which a Juvenile Court judge can support the operations of the Juvenile Justice Intervention Center is to enact policies and then take specific actions every day in the courtroom that reduce the burdens on them. While public safety will of course be a paramount objective, I will focus on solutions centered around alternatives to incarceration wherever appropriate. This includes making the most out of the Orleans Detention Alternative Program (ODAP), which is specifically designed to allow for youth facing charges to be supervised outside of the Intervention Center before their trials. I will work with ODAP to maximize the effectiveness of this pre-trial supervision for all cases in which public safety would not be threatened.

I firmly believe that incarceration should be a last resort for our city's youth, and that a judicial approach that de-emphasizes the role of incarceration and focuses on justice will actually reduce recidivism, increase public safety, and be less costly over time. This philosophy will guide me as a judge and will pay dividends for our entire juvenile justice system, including the detention facility. Please see my answers above and below for more details on how I will implement these reforms as Judge in Section 'A.”
4. What alternative sentencing measures would you implement during the pandemic to ensure the safety of convicted juveniles? The children who come through Juvenile Court, even in 'normal' circumstances, carry with them trauma from poverty, abuse, exposure to routine violence, systemic racism, addiction, and untreated mental health conditions. The COVID-19 pandemic has only increased the likelihood that these conditions will be manifested for our city's youth and has exacerbated the resulting trauma. Many of these children are suffering from a sudden lack of resources as it pertains to their education, social activities, and even nutrition. This trauma cannot be alleviated simply by going to court, being on probation, or serving time.

As such, I will focus even more intently in these abnormal times on using judicial discretion as allowed by law to hold young people accountable by means other than incarceration. In fact, my familiarity with the Children's Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure gives me unique insight relative to my opponents on ways in which the former statutes give more flexibility to judges than the latter in terms of crafting appropriate dispositions. As your judge in Section “A,” not only will I provide real and meaningful accountability to juvenile offenders, but also – just as importantly – to the juvenile justice system.

Most importantly, I commit to tailoring each case outcome to the circumstances of each individual child that comes before me. I will consider all of those circumstances in determining the best course of action in his or her case. In addition, I will strive to innovate the juvenile justice system by implementing the concepts of restorative justice. When utilized in coordination with crime victims and families, restorative justice techniques can both hold offenders accountable and make victims whole, and ultimately lead to increased public safety via lower rates of recidivism.

In New Orleans, as elsewhere, most arrests of youth are for offenses that are not crimes of violence, i.e. they do not involve either violence or weapons - for example, between 82-86% of youth arrests each year from 2013-2017 were for non-violent offenses, according to the Louisiana Center for Children's Rights. I truly believe that it does our community more harm than good to lock these children up.

The Covid-19 pandemic has made it even more apparent that over-incarceration is not just a juvenile justice crisis but a public health crisis, and it will be my goal as Juvenile Court judge to help solve both emergencies simultaneously.

5. Have you ever been censored or disciplined? If yes, please explain. No.